Tribal leaders gather at Interior: Obama is the "first American Indian president"

Little noticed in all of the continuing fiscal-cliff hullabaloo today, the Obama administration held their annual White House Tribal Nations Conference with the Department of Interior on Wednesday — and if ever there was a specific, targeted example of the long-term results perpetuated by the type of persistent big-government help the Obama administration wants to keep going, America’s Indian reservations are it.

Over the past four years, through tribal consultation and the White House Tribal Nations Conferences, President Obama and his Administration have worked to ensure that tribal leaders are directly involved in setting policy priorities. Today, President Obama is hosting the 2012 White House Tribal Nations Conference at the Department of Interior.

This conference continues to build upon the President’s commitment to strengthen the government to government relationship with Indian Country, by providing invited leaders from the 566 federally recognized tribes the opportunity to interact directly with the President and representatives from the highest levels of his Administration.  In conjunction with today’s event, the White House released a report, Continuing the Progress in Tribal Communities,” that examines the President’s agenda and how this Administration, by working together with tribes, has made a difference for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

The report highlights:

As I wrote after this same conference last year, the Obama administration (like the administrations before them) is never short of showy ideas for the ways in which they’re going to “help” America’s tribal Indians, yet somehow, nothing on Indian reservations ever seems to actually progress. Indian reservations have been under the government’s thumb for centuries, and yet many of the most miserable, poorest areas in America with the lowest standards of living and life expectancies are on Indian reservations.

The inconsistent rule of law, the many regulations, the insecure property rights — in short, many of the ingredients necessary for doing business and economic growth — mean that reservations are more like enclaves of socialism scattered among a land of plenty than sovereign nations. American Indian tribes together are the largest landholders in the United States, and their lands are sources of abundant natural resources like oil, gas, timber, and minerals — but the government holds many of their lands “in trust,” cough cough.

The federal government, however, has never been in the business of eliminating the need for government, so they’ll keep the welfare checks coming and never make the suggestion that Indian tribes privatize their land — despite President Obama’s 2008 pledge to end the practice of “lip service to working with tribes while taking a one-size-fits-all approach with tribal communities across the nation.” Yeah, right.

President Barack Obama spoke to the White House Tribal Nations Conference of Native American groups at the Interior Department Wednesday. The chairman of the conference, Brian Cladoosby of the Swinomish Nation, reportedly suggested that Obama is the first “American Indian” president.

“Think about it for a second,” Cladoosby said, according to the pool report. “The president loves basketball. He has an Indian name, he knows what it’s like to be poor and he hasn’t forgotten where he came from. And his theme song is ‘Hail to the Chief.’ I think he definitely qualifies as the first American Indian president.”

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